Finding the manpower to defend democracy has been a recurring problem. Russell Weigley writes: The historic preoccupation of the Army's thought in peacetime has been the manpower question: how, in an unmilitary nation, to muster adequate numbers of capable soldiers quickly should war occur. When the nature of modern warfare made an all-volunteer army inadequate, the major Western democracies confronted the dilemma of involuntary military service in a free society. The core of this manuscript concerns methods by which France, Great Britain, and the United States solved the problem and why some solutions were more lasting and effective than others. Flynn challenges conventional wisdom that suggests that conscription was inefficient and that it promoted inequality of sacrifice.
Sharing similar but not identical diplomatic outlooks, the three countries discussed here were allies in world wars and in the Cold War, and they also confronted the problem of using conscripts to defend colonial interests in an age of decolonization. These societies rest upon democratic principles, and operating a draft in a democracy raises several unique problems. A particular tension develops as a result of adopting forced military service in a polity based on concepts of individual rights and freedoms. Despite the protest and inconsistencies, the criticism and waste, Flynn reveals that conscription served the three Western democracies well in an historical context, proving effective in gathering fighting men and allowing a flexibility to cope and change as problems arose.
Introduction Road to World War I World War I 1920 to 1945 Limited Wars Operating the System Deferring the Elite Fit to Fight Conscription and the Economy Conscience and the Draft Politics of Conscription Evaluation and Conclusions Bibliography Index
Reviews This thoroughly researched and copiously referenced volume examines conscription in France, Great Britain, and the US from the perspective of the two world wars, limited and colonial struggles, fairness, conscience, political strictures and their manifestations in manning the militaries, how the parameters of conscription were altered and interpreted historically, and the undulating support for conscription. Appropriate as a reference source for advanced students of history, political science, and sociology who are interested in military studies.—Choice
Despite the manifest effectiveness of current volunteer systems, the issue of how a nation determines who does the dying remains vexing in this age of ^ISmall Wars^R, and will likely explode should the ^Ination^R go to war. Fortunately, Flynn has provided a key referent for those discussions.—The Journal of Military History
Endorsements Historians talk a lot about writing comparative studies, but rarely follow through and do them. George Flynn's admirable history of conscription in France, Great Britain, and the United States is therefore doubly welcome. ^IConscription and Democracy^R is well written, thoroughly researched, and very intelligently argued.—James T. Patterson^LProfessor of History^LBrown University
^IConscription and Democracy^R does what no other book has ever done. We come to a new understanding of modern democracies by looking at the conscription systems of the United States, Great Britain and France. Each of these countries confronted the dilemma of involuntary military service in a free society in both similar and contrasting ways. Combining systematic research with comparative analysis, George Flynn makes a landmark contribution to a critically important, but, heretofore, understudied subject.—Charles Moskos^LProfessor of Sociology^LNorthwestern University
A well-researched, insightful, and highly useful comparative history of conscription in three western nations. a splendid addition to our knowledge of the draft and political culture in the twentieth century.—John Whiteclay ChambersII^LRutgers University^LEditor-in-Chief, Oxford^LCompanion to American^LMilitary History